Redmond, February the 13th 2014: we arrived at the Microsoft Headquarters and are welcomed by Steve Seow – a Technical Evangelist at Microsoft. The visit starts with a little tour to get to Pike Place, where we are going to spend most of the day. Pike Place is a big cafeteria for Microsoft’s employees. We are all amazed by how beautiful, huge and modern the campus is and we can really feel the innovative vibe surrounding us.
The first speaker is Steve, who presents the company and the agenda of the afternoon. At that point, we are thrilled by what is happening. Indeed, we are at the headquarters of one of the biggest companies of the world, which is for us quite unusual.
After Steven finished his talk, he is followed up by Ludovic Ulrich, a French entrepreneur who used to work at Microsoft but is now working for his own company called “Startup Digest”. This is “the personalized insider newsletter for all things startup in your area.”
Ludovic gives us some insights on entrepreneurship and mainly talks about Startup Week-Ends. These are week-ends organized in order to gather people from different backgrounds, to connect them and/or provide them the proper environment to think about launching innovative ideas.
Microsoft is one of the companies which are very involved in the process of helping small startups to grow. They give them the tools they might need, such as free software for 5 years. Ludovic’s status of successful entrepreneur gives so much power to his words that we hang on every word he says: signing-up for Startup Week-Ends, finding our customers and what they cherish, looking for “what to do next”, caring about our partners …
Our second speaker is Cliff Reeves, a Sr. Director at Microsoft. He talks about entrepreneurship & innovation, mainly on how Microsoft deals with them. He gives the examples of accelerators and events run by the enterprise to help start-ups that they think can become successful. For instance, Microsoft links in San Francisco the CIO or CEO of its largest retail customers (eg: L’Oréal, Nestlé, Coca Cola…) with 100 of the most successful startups they back. It is a good opportunity for young entrepreneurs to get help from big firms, as well as for these big firms to get involved with new ideas and areas that they have not yet explored.
Our final speaker is an alumnus of GEM and a Sr. Product Manager of Microsoft- Virginie Maitre Infanti. She speaks about her career opportunities and how her life was after GEM. She managed to move from a subsidiary of Microsoft in France to the HQ of the firm, but it implied to make big life choices like moving to Seattle with her husband and children. She mainly deals with work-life balance and expatriation challenges. It is great because we can really identify with her as she was previously a GEM student like us. She also tells us how important it is to build a strong network in order to find internships and jobs in the future.
1) Always think about other people, don’t be selfish.
3) When you become very good at your job, when you become the best, and when you are completely submersed in your comfort-zone; then it is time to move on. Time to challenge yourself;
4) Think about giving back to the society just like the film “Pay it forward” by Mimi Leder
After this very inspiring talk, we arrive at the visitor center where every one of us is amazed by this “game center”! So many Surface, laptops, Xbox, Skype, games, prototypes for the future… As we move and discover the room, we play, we laugh and we take pictures.
It was a very good way to truly appreciate how Microsoft’s products are consumer experience oriented.
We end up at the Microsoft Store, a great place where we can buy lot of Microsoft’s products, which was a perfect conclusion to the fantastic tour.
Written by Margaux Afanyan, Karen Aflalo and Antsa Rabenjamina